Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's been a long long time

Admittedly, I have not been the best blogger.  It all started late last summer when life started getting really busy.  Nothing in particular happened, but there was just too much to fit in a day.  So the first thing that went was the blog. 

I will be starting it up again and posting about once a week.  Some exciting things have been happening!  Belle Junque is going to be carrying a line of paint called Shabby Paints.  We are currently wrapping up shipping details on our website (oh, what a pain!) and hope to launch it next week.  Sales will be online only, but pick up will be available to people living in the Twin Cities.  We are anxious to get going with such a great paint company.

The blog will primarily be showing ways of recreating items using Shabby Paints.  We look forward to sharing tips and tricks about these great products.

More to come....

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Cane Barrel Chair

There is a new cane barrel chair in my booth space at Tags in Hudson, WI.  Here she is.....

This chair was a lot of work but the end result was worth it.  There were a lot of staples needing to be pulled when removing the original fabric.  And they were in a crevice, making the removal even more of a challenge.  But once the fabric and staples were removed, it was down to bare bones and ready for a change.

I lightly sanded the wood, then painted it with Rustoleum Heirloom white, wiping some of it off so you could see the wood underneath.  It looked fine, but I wanted more texture, so added a coat of Annie Sloan's duck egg blue.  This created a lot of texture since you could still see the white underneath.  It was then sealed with clear wax and aged with dark wax.  When the wax was dry and less tacky, I buffed it really well so it was nice and smooth.

Then I applied the fabric.  I got a nice upholstery staple gun which worked wonders and made the process much easier.  Once the fabric was secured (sorry, I won't go into all that detail), then some nice thick cording was applied with hot glue.  It was finally complete.

 Here it is before the makeover.

What a change some paint and fabric can make!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Library Card Catalog

Occasionally, you find a gem.  When I found my gem, it looked like a tattered piece of trash.  But underneath all that, something beautiful was there.  Here is my gem....

This wonderful piece is a library card catalog that I purchased in northern WI while visiting there.  It came out of a library in one of the small towns in the area.  But after being pulled from the library, it sat in a shed for a number of years.  And as you can see, shed life wasn't kind to this piece.

Besides the fact that the wood was scratched, stained, and water damaged, it also had some small paint splatters.  I sanded those areas to remove the splatters.  I was a little concerned about sanding and scraping even more, but I figured it couldn't hurt with the way it already looked.

Finally, the piece was in two separate parts.  The bottom drawer had been separated from the rest.  There were screws sticking up where the pieces were meant to be joined, but they weren't holding it together anymore.  I bought some longer screws and pieced it together again.

It then came time for the cleaning.  The first step was to vacuum it with the shop vac just to get some of the dirt and spider webs out of the drawers.  The next step was wiping it all down, inside and out, with Murphy's Oil Soap.  This really cleaned it up and help get more of the dirt out of the wood.  After it was cleaned and dried, I used Howard Restor-A-Finish in dark walnut.  I had never really used this product, and I have to say, I was amazed.  The directions suggested using 000 steel wool to rub the stain into the wood.  Some spots took a lot of rubbing and a couple coats, but soon enough the beautiful wood started to shine through.  The Restor-A-Finish made this piece beautiful again as the scratches and damage are hardly noticeable now.  I'm sure this product works best on porous wood--I can't imagine it working on a heavily polyurethaned piece.  But it works incredibly well on the right piece.  Here it is partly finished.

What a major improvement!  This was really exciting to see.  I had also been debating adding casters to this, otherwise it would sit directly on the floor.  After inquiring about this with friends and neighbors, I added the casters.  They were old and had the look and feel of the catalog.  And if someone doesn't like them, they can easily be removed.

The final step was to apply wax for a little protection and to create a soft glow.  The Restor-A-Finish suggested using Howard Feed-N-Wax, which I happened to have in my stash of items.  After a coat of wax the wood started to look less thirsty.  Another coat was added for good measure.

Here is this gem now, hopefully a little closer to the way it was meant to be.

I'm spending some time admiring it and working through the emotions of selling it.  I find I'm getting less attached to things as I see furniture come and go.  But some pieces are too unique.  I also have been doing some research to learn its history.  I found a website written by a former librarian who knows a lot about library card catalogs.  I emailed him and was thrilled to get a response the same day.  He let me know that the catalog was created in the late 19th century.  He also stated that it was an unusual piece, and was created prior to the ones that hold only one row of cards per drawer (this holds two rows per drawer, although the rods are missing).  It was created by Library Bureau SoleMakers, which was one of the first companies to manufacture card catalogs.  Finally, he let me know his thoughts on the value.  His input was very helpful and it was exciting to hear from him.

This project was a thrill for me and I'm proud to have restored it to a better condition.  The oak wood is amazingly beautiful, the style is fantastic, and the history and its original function are very interesting.  It's not in perfect shape, as there are cracks on the top and not all the corners align properly.  But I don't mind, I love the character it has.  When I've worked through all my separation issues, this piece will likely be appearing at Tags where I'm hoping it will find a loving home.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Harlequin Patterned Table

A while back I acquired a dining table from one of my kind neighbors.  It was a basic blond oak table, but very sturdy and solid.

Originally I painted it just a basic gray, then let it sit until I found some chairs to go with it.  As I waited for the right chairs to come along, I realized the gray table was a little too basic.  It needed something else.

Eventually I found the right chairs that came in twos.  Two were maple and two were oak, so they are a mix and match set.  There is some variation but they all correspond, which is a look I really like.  And these chairs were very stable with no rickety qualities.

They look great in the picture above, but their surface needed a little love since they were scratched and worn.  And again, a distressed or worn look with paint is lovely.  But an unintentional worn look with wood?  It's not quite the look I was wanting.

The chairs were painted with Rustoleum Heirloom White paint in satin.  I didn't want to wax all these chairs, so latex was the way to go.  I lightly sanded the chairs prior to painting them with the use of my paint sprayer.  They received several coats.  After the paint dried, I did a light glazing technique to give them an aged look.  Then I sanded them some with a fine sandpaper to smooth them out.

And back to the table---I used a diamond template to help create the pattern.  I pencilled out all the lines, taped them off for painting, then painted some of the diamonds in Heirloom White and left some gray to create the pattern.  The base of the table was also painted with the white paint.  Then I glazed the table to create an aged or antiqued look once again.  Finally, the table top received two coats of lacquer for protection and durability.

And here is the final set...

It almost stayed in my home but was taken to Tags and has already sold.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Signature Piece: Antique Rocker

One of Belle Junque's goals this year was to produce 'signature pieces', meaning anything that was special in some way.  It could be the item itself, or the way it was transformed, or perhaps just something I thought was unique and would stand out.  The first signature piece this year is an antique rocker.  I consider it signature because of the beautiful wood, lovely curves, and overall look.  It's simply a beautiful antique piece.

The only issue when I found it was the fabric.  It was not very nice and didn't contrast with the wood very well.

I'm not certain as to why the gimp is about an inch lower than the fabric.  But not ideal....

Lovely wood and curvy arms....

I knew that the wood was wonderful as is, even with its little imperfections.  So no painting for this one.  I did remove the fabric, however, as it needed a change.

The funny thing was that I loved what was underneath.  This raw look is popular right now and this piece had it.  The only issue is that it's not very practical or useable.  So I continued with the plan to upholster.

There was some great fabric on the back, similar to burlap.

After admiring it in this raw state for a while, I found a fabric that had a grain sack look to it.  It was very neutral, but had subtle lines similar to the color of duck egg blue.  It was beautiful fabric and seemed like it would contrast the wood nicely.

After figuring out all the upholstery (sorry--leaving out the detail on that), gimp was added around the edges.  Here is the final result-

When I first looked at the final result, I realized I've been a little influenced by Miss Mustard Seed.  I hope she takes it as a compliment.  I'm very pleased with the chair and to be honest, I'm not yet sure if it's going to Tags for sale or if it's staying with me for a little while.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Multi-Purpose Stand

I got a great piece through a co-worker that was made of solid wood and had beautiful lines.  I'm not sure what to call it, as it seemed like it was once part of a vanity.  But on it's own, it was more like a nightstand, or an occasional piece you might have near an entry.  It could have multiple purposes and could fit in many places as the size was just right.  It was a great piece.

The wood was in good shape, but dull in spots (these pictures make the wood look lighter than it really was).  Although I love good wood, one complaint I have is that it tends to just look brown (hmmmmm.....wonder why).  Painting parts of a piece will help bring out the beautiful wood, as well as highlight beautiful shapes and lines.  So it seemed that this piece was a great candidate for the two-toned look.

I started by cleaning the piece really well using Murphy's oil soap.  Then I painted parts of the piece, using a light French gray paint that was mixed with Webster's Chalk Paint Powder.  There are so many great products out there, but I love this because you can mix it with most any paint (matte, eggshell, or satin) to have the same effect as a chalk paint.  It works like a charm.

When I was finished with the first coat, I did a second to ensure good coverage.  After it dried, I lightly sanded some areas I wanted to highlight with a distressed look.  Finally, I waxed the entire piece--wood and all.  The wax sealed the paint and brought a nice sheen to the wood.

Finally, the two bottom drawers were quite clean and just needed a quick wipe with cleaner.  The top drawer on the other hand was quite dirty.  So I took some pages of a German book and using modge podge, decoupaged the drawer bottom.  I forgot to snap a quick picture of this, but it's a great way to take care of messy drawers.  A coat of modge podge was added to the top of the paper to seal it and create a smooth cleanable surface.

Here is the final result.

The look is what I was hoping for.  This piece was taken to Tags and has already sold.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Painted Trunk

Recently I got this really great trunk and was debating whether to alter it or not.  The great thing about chalk and mineral paints is that they can be used in many different applications.  If it weren't for these paints, the trunk would have stayed the same.  But knowing that chalk paint can be used for practically anything, I decided to use it on the trunk.

Here is it before.

The first thing I did was clean the trunk really well with a basic gentle cleaner.  Then I applied Annie Sloan's Versaille as a base coat.  I painted over pretty much everything, including most of the metal.  After that dried, I did a wash of Annie Sloan's Old White which was half paint half water.  I wiped away some of the areas if the paint seemed too watery.  This gave a really nice texture with some of the green showing underneath.

After this was dry, I stenciled some nonsensical French words and a fleur de lis.  I did it on each side facing a different way so it could either rest on its side with the words facing up, or rest on its bottom with words facing up.  After it was stenciled, I sprayed it with shellac to seal the paint.

Here is the final result-

I'm very pleased with the result and how the paint performed on the trunk.  This piece has been taken to Tags in Hudson, WI and is available for sale.